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BRITISH COLUMBIA

Maritime Forces Pacific Naden:

Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt (CFB Esquimalt) is Canada’s Pacific Coast naval base and home port to Maritime Forces Pacific and Joint Task Force Pacific Headquarters.


Work Point Barracks:

Opened in 1887 at the entrance to Victoria Harbour as the home for C Battery, Royal Canadian Artillery (RCA), who moved here from Quebec. A military prison was built in 1904, featuring a 10 foot outer brick wall and barred windows.

B Company, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) were quartered here from 1920 until they left for England in 1939. Later the 58th Field Engineer Squadron (58 FER – re-named 1 Combat Engineer Regiment in 1977) made Work Point their home.

In 1957 C Battery, RCA departed, as did 58 FER to Camp Chilliwack. The 1st Battalion, PPCLI, returned to Work Point Barracks in 1957, remaining until they were replaced by the 1st Battalion, The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada (1 QOR) in 1963. On 17  March 1970, 1 QOR was re-badged the 3rd Battalion, PPCLI, and became an amalgamated Reserve-Regular Force Battalion, responsible for Reserve infantry training in B.C.

With the Unification of the Forces, Work Point Barracks became part of CFB Esquimalt. The officer training schools of the three former services were merged into one, the Canadian Forces Officer Candidate School (CFOCS), and re-located to CFB Cilliwack in 1970.

In 1994, 3 PPCLI also moved from Work Point Barracks to CFB Chilliwack. The Naval Officer Training Centre Venture, moved to Work Point Barracks from the World War II era building it occupied at HMC Dockyard Esquimalt. By 1997, a new 2,000-square-metre building was constructed overlooking Victoria Harbour, including space for administration offices, instructional & training, sports facilities and a student lounge.

On 30 September 2005, the new Kingsmill building was officially dedicated. The six-story accommodation building provides 172 rooms for naval officer trainees. In the spring of 2006, the Officer’s Mess and Quarters was declared surplus and despite a campaign by the local community to save the heritage building, it was demolished.

The old military prison closed long ago and is now used for storage.

Source material:  Maritime Forces Pacific web site – http://www.navy.forces.gc.ca/marpac/0/0-w_eng.asp?category=97


Naval Radio Section Aldergrove:

Originally established during World War II on the grounds of HMC Dockyard at His Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Naden, the Royal Canadian Navy base for the Pacific Fleet. However, interference from the base created a problem for receiving radio signals and the radio station had to be relocated.

A Wireless Telegraph receiver station was established near the town of Aldergrove in December 1942, and the following November, a Wireless Telegraph broadcast station was established near the town of Matsqui Prairie. After World War II ended, activity at both stations was greatly reduced.

On 1 June 1955, the radio station resumed full operations, providing ship/shore and air/ground communications for Canadian and Allied Armed Forces on the Pacific coast. The station was re-named Her Majesty’s Canadian Naval Radio Station Aldergrove, but a year later the name was changed to simply Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship Aldergrove.

As a result of the Unification, HMCS Aldergrove was again re-named Canadian Forces Station Aldergrove in 1967.

In the mid 1990s, a reorganization and consolidation occurred within the Canadian Military. Several bases were either downsized, merged or closed and as a result, CFS Aldergrove was downsized to a remote broadcast control station and a Detachment of CFB Esquimalt (Naden). The Detachment was again re-named Naval Radio Section Aldergrove in 1996 to officially acknowledge the unit’s naval heritage.

In 2001 Naval Radio Section Aldergrove returned to the HMC Dockyard at CFB Esquimalt (Naden) for the first time since 1942. The transmitter and receiver sites at Aldergrove and Matsqui remain operational, but several buildings at Aldergrove have been demolished including the single quarters and the water tower.  The Junior Ranks Club is vacant and will be demolished in the near future.

Both Aldergrove and Matsqui can be remotely controlled by CFB Halifax. Similarly, both the Mill Cove and Newport Corner can be remotely controlled by CFB Esquimalt.

The site of NRS Aldergrove, located just north of the Town of Aldergrove near 22nd Street and 40th Avenue, remains the home to several Reserve and Cadet units: B Troop, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, B Company, 169 COLUMBIA Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps & 1922 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps, Royal Westminster Regiment.

746 “Lightning Hawk” Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron relocated from Aldergrove to temporary facilities at the Canadian Museum of Flight  in 2010 because of the Winter Olympics security operations being based at Aldergrove. In 2012 they moved to their new home in Hangar 5 at the Langley Airport.

The Canadian Forces Housing Agency maintains 9 PMQs (now called Residential Housing Units) for military members posted to Matsqui, but they are slated to be demolished in 2015.  The PMQs at Aldergove have already been demolished.

In August of 2012 construction began on a new construction engineering facility (CEF) for the air force. Construction was completed in the fall of 2013. The facility is occupied by 192 CEF. The new building is located on 272 Street, south of the main gate.

The Royal Westminster Regiment’s Aldergrove Detachment was also located at Aldergrove, but re-located to Chilliwack in April 2013.

Aldergrove also serves an important function as the site of Poloar Epsilon, a Canadian Forces project that provides enhances all-weather day and night surveillance using images from the RADARSAT-2 satellite.  This unit was officially established in 2011.

The Aldergrove site is located just north of the Fraser Highway on 272nd street.  The Matsqui Transmitter site is just south of Highway 11 near the base of Sumas Mountain.

Source material: DND press release from February 1994, information provided by Michael DesMazes, Local Historian (2002), information supplied by the Canadian Forces Housing Agency (2011) & information provided by Petty Officer 1st Class J. MacDonald, Information Systems Manager, Naval Radio Section Aldergrove (2000),  Petty Officer 1st Class Pat Devaney, Weapons Engineering Manager, CFB Esquimalt Maintenance Detachment Matsqui (2014)  & The Chilliwack Progress, 4 February 2013 – http://www.theprogress.com/news/189222671.html.


Canadian Forces Station Leitrim – Detachment Massett:

Originally opened as a Royal Canadian Navy radio intercept station, Naval Wireless Station Massett (old spelling) on 23 February 1943. Situated at the top of the Queen Charlotte Islands, the station proved to be an ideal location for shop-to-shore communications.

Also during 1943, the RCAF’s No. 9 Construction Maintenance Unit arrived and constructed an airfield and several buildings. The station even had a detachment of Cano Code trained Special Operators posted to the site in 1944.

The end World War II saw the closure of many military bases and Naval Wireless Station Massett was no exception, closing in the fall of 1945. The site remained in RCN hands on a care and maintenance basis.

Naval Radio Station Masset resumed operations in 1949 as a High Frequency Direction Finding and Signal Intelligence station, a tender to NRS  Gloucester, as were Inuvik, Gander, Frobisher Bay, Aklavik, Bermuda and Chimo. Gloucester provided all the administrative functions, pay for the station.

The Delkatla site was re-activated as the main operations centre, another operations centre and the accommodations block were situated at the “old site” in Masset and the transmitter/receiver site was in Haida Village.

By the mid 1950s, married quarters had been constructed at the Masset site.

As a result of the Unification, NRS Masset was re-named CFS Masset and the station became part of the Canadian Forces Supplementary Radio System.

Military communications stations across the country were consolidated, with several stations closing and those that remained taking over bigger areas of responsibility.

With the impending consolidation, it became apparent that Massett needed new facilities, so in 1966 plans were made for new buildings and upgraded communications equipment.

In 1970, operations were centralized at the Masset site and the Delkatla and Haida sites closed.  Land was cleared and the station received a complete upgrade in its facilities, including new married quarters, a new operations site, an antenna system, new barracks, mess and recreation facilities.

A unique feature of the new buildings was that the domestic site was integrated into the Town of Massett itself, unusual for a military base.

In 1971, Masset assumed control of the area of responsibility covered by CFS Lander, which was one of the stations slated for closure.  It was around this time period, the station complement rose from 50 persons to 240 military and 60 civilian workers.

The United States Navy Security Group also had a small contingent of personnel posted to Masset in 1971.

Department of National Defence cutbacks resulted in the station being downsized to remote operation on 4 April 1997. The station was re-designated CFS Leitrim Detachment Masset and only 10 military personnel remain for technical support, drawing support from 19 Wing Comox.

Most of the buildings at the former station have been sold to the Village of Masset, except for a few of the PMQs & the gym. A top floor was added to the Golf Clubhouse and that is the all ranks mess

All that remains of the “old Massett site” is a deserted roadway.

Source material: DND press release from February 1994, CFS Masset site – http://www.island.net/~labrador/cfsm.htm, CFS Masset site – http://www.jproc.ca/rrp/masset.html, Sentinel magazine, January 1970 & information and personal recollections of Petty Officer 1st Class Kevin Lamorie (2004).


Camp Nanaimo:

Opened in 1939 as a militia training camp, Camp Nanaimo was also used as a Combined Operations base for the training of army and naval groups until 1943.

The camp closed in 1946 and many of the buildings were sold for civilian use.  The former military hospital became a Department of Indian Affairs hospital.

The camp was later re-acquired by the Canadian Army, who re-opened it as the home of the 5th Field Artillery, “B” Company of the Canadian Scottish Regiment, and 748 Communications Troop.

By the late 1950s, the threat of a nuclear war had become so great that the Canadian government decided to construct a secret underground bunker to house the major elements of the government in the event of an emergency. Most Provincial Governments followed suit by building their own bunkers. The British Columbia Government chose Camp Nanaimo for the site of their bunker. A smaller transmitter bunker was built at Nanoose Bay.

By 1970, Camp Nanaimo began downsizing. Approximately half of the camp was sold and by 1973, the vacated portion of the camp had been taken over by Malaspina University College, now called Vancouver Island University.

Today, Camp Nanaimo is a Detachment of CFB Esquimalt. Most of the WWII era buildings have been demolished. One of the few remaining buildings is an old H-hut that sits on the university property, used by the Navy League of Canada.

A small section of former camp serves as the home of 740 Communication Squadron and 748 (Nanaimo) Communication Squadron (Reserve), both housed since 1988 in a building named after RCMP Constable Scott Gordon Berry who was killed in 1986, and The Canadian Scottish Regiment (Princess Mary’s), housed in a new armoury opened in late 2004. The remainder of this section of the property contains only overgrown roads and a running track for the old camp gym.

The camp’s firing range also remains operational, but the bunker was demolished in 1999.  The CBC radio equipment from the bunker is now at the National Museum of Science and Technology in Ottawa.

Source Material: Vancouver Island University web site – www.viu.ca, www/discover/muchist/chpt3.htm, information supplied by Jerry Berry, resident of Nanaimo (2005), “Underground Structure of the Cold War” by Paul Ozorak & the Heritage BC web stie – http://www.heritagebc.ca/heritage_bc04.htm.


Camp Vernon Army Cadet Summer Training Centre:

(No. 110 Canadian Army (Basic) Training Centre)

Originally opened in 1909 as a militia training camp for units of the Okanogan Valley. During World War I, the camp was a very busy place for the training of units of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. After the war, the camp returned to being a militia training camp.

In 1940, the Camp was once again taken over by the Regular Force and became the home of No. 110 Canadian Army (Basic) Training Centre and the Canadian Battle Drill School for the duration of the war. After serving as a demobilization centre for returning soldiers, the camp closed in 1947.

The camp re-opened in 1949 as a summer training centre for the Royal Canadian Army Cadets and remains so to this day, with Royal Canadian Air Cadets and Royal Canadian Navy Sea Cadets also attending Vernon for summer training camps.

Most of the World War II era buildings, including the once ubiquitous H-Hut barracks that once sprawled across army camps in Canada.  Only a small number of the WWII-era H-huts remain across Canada today in comparison to the hundreds that once housed soldiers training at Canadian Army camps.  While some have been renovated and are still in use, both at active bases and by private owners, most have been demolished or allowed do fall apart.  Camp Vernon has the largest and best conditioned examples of H-Huts still standing in Canada.

While Camp Vernon is now a cadet training centre, the professional soldiers have not completely abandoned their former turf as both Regular and Reserve Force Army units utilize the training area on a year round basis.  As well, the British Columbia Dragoons reserve regiment have an armoury at the camp.

The Vernon camp is now the oldest continuous serving army cadet training centre in Canada having outlived the cadet camps at Ipperwash, which closed in 1994, and Banff, which closed in 1999.

Historian Francois Arseneault describes the Vernon Army Cadet Summer Training Centre as “…perhaps the best preserved example of a WWII H-hut camp in left Canada, if not the largest. The buildings are remarkable well preserved given the mild winters and dry, relatively bug-free summers”.

Source Material: information provided by Francois Arseneault, Historian (2003), Vernon Army Cadet Summer Training Centre web sitehttp://www.armycadethistory.com/vernon_acstc_main.htm & The Canadian Army WWII Training Establishments web site – www.canadiansoldiers.com/wwiitrain.htm.


Camp Albert Head:

Originally established as an artillery coastal battery from 1938-1946 in the village of Metchosin.

The camp, on Albert Head Road, now serves as a summer training camp for the Albert Head Air Cadet Summer Training Centre, as well as the British Columbia Canadian Ranger Company of the 4th Canadian Ranger Patrol Group and CFB Esquimalt Range Control.  In the past, naval reservists also used the camp for summer training.

Several of the WWII era buildings remain, along with new buildings and portables.

Source Material: information supplied by Debbie Towell, Curator, CFB Esquimalt Naval & Military Museum and the personal recollections of the author (1988).


 

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